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Bush Admin. Appoints Civil-Liberties Officer 292

Zephyros writes "The WSJ reports that the Bush administration has appointed a Civil Liberties Protection Officer in order to assuage the public's privacy concerns. From the article: 'As the son of a U.S. aid worker stationed in Guatemala during the 1970s civil war, Alex Joel recalls being unable to tell the good guys from the bad as both armed soldiers and civilians alike would order his family out of their car to search it. Those first-hand brushes with totalitarianism, says Mr. [Alex] Joel, have led him to take the rights of individuals very seriously.' It remains to be seen how effective he will be, but at least they're recognizing the concern."
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Bush Admin. Appoints Civil-Liberties Officer

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  • Great... (Score:3, Funny)

    by fredistheking ( 464407 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:10PM (#15165530)
    I feel so much better now.
    • You shouldn't... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SoCalChris ( 573049 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:21PM (#15165648) Journal
      I know that you were being sarcastic (At least I hope you were), but this won't change a thing.

      Over a year ago, Bush created the "Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board". They haven't met a single time since the board was created.

      The LA Times article that talked about it is now in their archives, and I believe is unavailable unless you pay for it.

      Here is a posting that made Fark about it a while ago, although the linked to article is dead.
      http://forums.fark.com/cgi/fark/comments.pl?IDLink =1923742 [fark.com]
      • by SoCalChris ( 573049 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:33PM (#15165769) Journal
        Here's a mirror of the LA Times article.

        http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/022006R.shtml [truthout.org]

        Privacy Guardian Is Still a Paper Tiger
        By Richard B. Schmitt
        The Los Angeles Times

        Monday 20 February 2006

        A year after its creation, the White House civil liberties board has yet to do a single day of work.

        Washington - For Americans troubled by the prospect of federal agents eavesdropping on their phone conversations or combing through their Internet records, there is good news: A little-known board exists in the White House whose purpose is to ensure that privacy and civil liberties are protected in the fight against terrorism.

        Someday, it might actually meet.

        Initially proposed by the bipartisan commission that investigated the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board was created by the intelligence overhaul that President Bush signed into law in December 2004.

        More than a year later, it exists only on paper.

        Foot-dragging, debate over its budget and powers, and concern over the qualifications of some of its members - one was treasurer of Bush's first campaign for Texas governor - has kept the board from doing a single day of work.

        On Thursday, after months of delay, the Senate Judiciary Committee took a first step toward standing up the fledgling watchdog, approving the two lawyers Bush nominated to lead the panel. But it may take months before the board is up and running and doing much serious work.

        Critics say the inaction shows the administration is just going through the motions when it comes to civil liberties.

        "They have stalled in giving the board adequate funding. They have stalled in making appointments," said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.). "It is apparent they are not taking this seriously."

        The Sept. 11 commission also has expressed reservations about the commitment to the liberties panel.

        "We felt it was absolutely vital," said Thomas H. Kean, the Republican former governor of New Jersey who led the commission. "We had certainly hoped it would have been up and running a long time ago."

        The inaction is especially noteworthy in light of recent events. Some Republicans joined Democrats to delay renewal of the anti-terrorism Patriot Act because of civil liberties concerns. And the disclosure in December that Bush approved surveillance of certain US residents' international communications without a court order has caused bipartisan dismay in Congress.

        "Obviously, civil liberties issues are critically important, and they have been to this president, especially after 9/11," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, adding that the White House had moved expeditiously to establish the board. "We do not formally nominate until we are through the background investigation and the full vetting. It takes time to present those nominations to the Senate. But now that they have been confirmed, that is a good thing."

        The board chairwoman is Carol E. Dinkins, a Houston lawyer who was a Justice Department official in the Reagan administration. A longtime friend of the Bush family, she was the treasurer of George W. Bush's first campaign for governor of Texas, in 1994, and co-chair of Lawyers for Bush-Cheney, which recruited Republican lawyers to handle legal battles after the November 2004 election.

        Dinkins, a longtime partner in the Houston law firm of Vinson & Elkins, where Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales once was a partner, has specialized in defending oil and gas companies in environmental lawsuits.

        Foremost among her credentials, she told Senate Judiciary Committee members in a response to their questions, was the two years she spent as deputy attorney general in President Reagan's Justice Department. There, she said, she had to weigh civil liberties concerns while overseeing domestic surveillance and counter-intelligence cases.

        The board vice chairman is Alan

      • Branches (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sterno ( 16320 )
        You know, I thought the whole oversight thing was why we had that other branch of government. You know that one with all the talking people that pass laws that the President ignores? Yeah those guys, they should probably look into this.
      • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:59PM (#15166041) Homepage
        Meanwhile, in the far-off land of Fableia...

        "Fox Appoints Chicken To Guard Henhouse Against Self"
        From the Henhouse-Safe-At-Last department.

        Chicken Little writes "The Aesop Journal-Times reports that the Fox has appointed a Henhouse Guardian in order to assuage the hens' fear of their new canid management. From the article: 'As the hatchling of a Rhode Island Red in Ohio during the Wolf Scare, Henrietta recalls being unable to tell the good guys from the bad as both sheep and wolves in sheep clothing would order the chickens out of the henhouse to search it. Those first-hand brushes with predators, says Ms. Henrietta Hen, have led her to take the safety of chickens very seriously.' It remains to be seen how effective she will be at guarding the henhouse from her boss, but at least the fox is recognising the concern."
      • by prell ( 584580 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @01:32PM (#15166385) Homepage
        When I see stories like this, the first thing that occurs to me is that they're just trying to patch things up. There is overwhelming evidence that this position was created (or newly appointed) because the Bush Administration realizes that people continue to be concerned about this, and they simply want to seem like they care. If they actually cared, they wouldn't need to create this position. If they actually cared, they would get on with the actual work of securing and defending civil liberties and human rights, by doing things like: not torturing people; talk to the press; free information; not spying on people while hiding it and therefore lying about it; pressure China to stop threatening Taiwan and to stop taking over other countries and generally hegemonizing anything they can; have respect for the self-determination of the citizens of the world, and therefore not invade other countries; not putting the desire to control the oil of the Middle East over the rights of the citizens there, and the commitment to honesty with the American people; not thinking they know better what's good for the citizens of America than we can determine for ourselves; and, forcing your religion on the populous, and creating false and hateful issues like "the gay marriage debate" (which isn't a debate as much as it is a proclamation of manifest destiny), which takes advantage of and reinforces the intolerance of everyone involved, in order to divide people into warring factions so you can get votes.

        For me to believe that the action of appointing this person to this post meant that the Bush Administration had changed its tune, I would have to believe that the Bush Administration had suddenly changed their whole mission to that of peace, discretion, prosperity, and well-being. And I don't believe that.

        Time will tell if I'm right or wrong, but if yesterday's news of the resignation of the White House Press Secretary is part of this same plan to show America and the world that the Bush Administration is serious about being caring, then I'm inclined to be insulted -- because the job of Press Secretary is meaningless. All the Press Secretary has to do is tell the press what the rest of the Administration wants him or her to say. You could put anyone in that job. They aren't required to ab lib or create strategy, and I assume that if they did, they'd be fired.
    • Re:Great... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by lymond01 ( 314120 )
      Concerns me that we actually need a Civil Liberties Officer....
  • Good first step (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:10PM (#15165532)
    Like Hitler appointing a blue ribbon panel to review the status of Jews.
  • Useless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stiletto ( 12066 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:11PM (#15165543)

    Useless because he reports to the Director of National Intelligence. Now, if the Director of National Intelligence reported to HIM, then we might have something to celebrate.

    • Further (Score:4, Informative)

      by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:52PM (#15165957) Journal
      It's useless because the man doesn't have subpoena powers and because he doesn't report to Congress.

      These are problems because
      1. No subpoena powers means he won't be able to force answers to uncomfortable questions
      2. Not reporting to Congress essentially means that the man isn't accountable to "We the people"

      Reading further into TFA, It seems to me that his job is partially going to involve enabling datamining in a more 'anonymous' fashion.
      The technology works by allowing personal data to be anonymous and shared -- say to compare an airline passenger list and a terrorist-watch list -- with the government getting only data on the exact matches. This allows airlines, for example, to avoid having to turn over passenger data wholesale to the government.
      Bush, Cheney & company seem to desperately want to track/datamine people. Even after the program was 'shut down', it turns out that it wasn't. It just got a name change & was shuffled around bureaucraticly. This looks to me like another attempt to legitimize that program.
      • Re:Further (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bob Uhl ( 30977 )
        Bush, Cheney & company seem to desperately want to track/datamine people.

        Well, give that we are now in an age when a single man--or a small group of men--can kill thousands of others and destroy billions of dollars easily, I can see why they'd want to track people. I'm not saying that they're necessarily right to do so, or that if right they've gone about it in the proper way--but the impetus for their actions is quite clear.

    • Re:Useless (Score:3, Insightful)

      by demachina ( 71715 )
      Its also quite possible his dad was working for the CIA when he was a "U.S. aid worker" in Guatemala and was aiding and abetting the right wing death squads the U.S. supported during Guatemala's long, ugly civil war and U.S. sponsored dictatorship. You never know but the CIA uses journalists and aid workers as fronts on a regular basis.

      During that war and the many other proxy wars like it anything to stop the spread of communism was OK, including Fascism and death squads killing people trying to organize w
  • No, no, no! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sevenoverzero ( 740419 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:12PM (#15165555) Homepage
    An executive-appointed position--regardless of which party is in power--is precisely where we cannot depend on our civil liberties being protected.
    • Well, I, for one, welcome our new sub-Intelligence Civil Liberties Overl ....

      no, wait ....
    • Re:No, no, no! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jfengel ( 409917 )
      I'd be happy to hear alternatives. Executive appointments smack of the risk of abuse of power, but at least the chief executive is called to account for his actions every four years or so. The party in power changes every so often. If you think that elected officials are risky, unelected officials are even worse.

      So either you're suggesting a radical reformulation of the way "governments are instituted among men" (and perhaps this government has "become destructive of these ends"), or you're merely pointing
    • Comarades!
      I have grown up in a communist country, and let me tell you!
      All problems can be solved by appointing executives with shiny titles to fix them! All of them!

      Remember, and repeat after me:
      All animals are equal!
  • Fishy? Yeah. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jonnythan ( 79727 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:13PM (#15165563)
    I think this guy *knows without a doubt* that his place is to make the public feel better by showing the administration "cares," not to actually take the bull by the horns and enact any sorts of changes.

    Talk about propaganda.
    • Um, duh. Well, 'duh' for anyone with half a brain. Which, unfortunately, is not most of America. Honestly, we need to really start over. Soon. Now. Last week. In 1998. Whenever. Before 1984.
    • Re:Fishy? Yeah. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by qwijibo ( 101731 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:29PM (#15165722)
      Do you think tyrants know that they're tyrants? People can't judge themselves objectively.

      A lot of people do some pretty bad things while believing they're doing good. Environmentalists firebomb buildings under construction. Animal rights activists sabotage labs and meat processing plants. They believe that they're helping their cause, but most people think that they're insane. Crazy people don't know that they're crazy. Everything they're doing makes perfect sense to them.

      I'm not taking a side for or against Bush here, but I do think it's possible that he genuinely believes he's doing the right thing and this guy is there to provide confirmation. Sure, the administration isn't going to go on TV tomorrow night and say "Oh. My. God. We were really out of control. We're sorry. Please forgive us." However, some good can come out of someone who has access to more information than the public saying "umm, don't you think that's a bit excessive?"

      Of course, the opposite position is just as likely. This guy could be a stooge that is there to help tell everyone that their liberties are being protected by the video cameras being installed in their homes. If you tell a lie often enough, you may get the majority to believe it. My personal favorite is the movement over the last several decades to declare the constitution unconstitutional. That's some mighty fine doublethink we got going on there. =)
      • by themassiah ( 80330 ) <scooper@coopster.net> on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:40PM (#15165833) Homepage Journal
        "You don't know the history of meat processing like I do, Matt. I've researched it. You're being glib."

        With appologies to Tom Cruise. *wretch*
      • People can't judge themselves objectively.

        Nonsense. I know I'm the most humble person ever.
        • I don't believe you. I want to see you and the Dali Lama in a deathmatch for the title of most humble person ever. Even if you are the Dali Lama, you're not going to win. =)
      • This guy could be a stooge that is there to help tell everyone that their liberties are being protected by the video cameras being installed in their homes.

        I remember reading somewhere that, in Imperial China, there was an interesting punishment meted out to misbehaving schoolgirls. They were to spend a night standing a post near the Emperor's bedroom, and relieve his insomnia by regularly shouting out, "The Empire is at peace! The Empire is at peace!"

        It strikes me as unlikely that this was the Emperor's i

      • the movement over the last several decades to declare the constitution unconstitutional

        I'm curious to know what you are referring to, please give a bit more detail. Thanks.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:13PM (#15165566)
    Donald Rumsfeld moved to head new "Department of Peace".
  • As the son of a U.S. aid worker stationed in Guatemala during the 1970s civil war, Alex Joel recalls being unable to tell the good guys from the bad as both armed soldiers and civilians alike would order his family out of their car to search it.

    Let me guess. He wasn't scared because they had nothing to hide, just like all good americans!

    Something tells me Joel's time in Guatemala was well spent taking notes.
    • Re:Nothing To Hide (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Alex Joel recalls being unable to tell the good guys from the bad

      So that's why they picked him.
    • Something tells me Joel's time in Guatemala was well spent taking notes.

      Guatemala? I thought Joel was in orbit watching bad movies with his robot friends.
    • Re:Nothing To Hide (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chops ( 168851 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @02:22PM (#15166917)
      That comment is really all you need to know to know that this guy isn't going to be worth shit as a "civil liberties officer." Armed men were pointing guns at him and rooting around in his things at random, and he was trying to find "good guys" among them.

      "If only I knew which of these groups of murderous thugs I was supposed to place blind, obedient trust in..."
  • Who appoints? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RunFatBoy.net ( 960072 ) * on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:13PM (#15165571)
    Does this really matter if the very administration that does the infringement is the same administration that appoints the officer? Their views will be in alignment.

        "Although you might have concerns about what might potentially be going on,
        those potentials are not actually being realized and if you could see
        what was going on, you would be reassured just like everyone else," he says.

    He lacks the same foresight as the rest of the administration. Even if you could say that the wiretap was legit, it sets a bad precedent; any forthcoming administration can establish the same program with ever stretching legal boundaries and say "Bush did it, it must be OK." And there wouldn't even be the oversight to say otherwise.

    Jim http://www.runfatboy.net/ [runfatboy.net]
    • Re:Who appoints? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @01:01PM (#15166052)
      Well, I'm immediately sceptical of any Bush appointees motives.

      You have...
      The mining lobbyist as a number 2 in the Department of the Interior and a cattle rancher laywer as the chief counsel.
      The pharmaceutical lawyer acting as lead counsel for the FDA.
      The meat industry lobbyist running our meat labelling program.
      The number 2 in the EPA was a Monsanto executive, and his pick for chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality represented GE in its fight against cleaning up its own toxic waste. The chief of staff left to go work for Southern Company (a major owner of coal plants) a week after clean air standard were relaxed.

      Read more. [commondreams.org]

      Essentially, Bush has packed every government enforcement agency with people who have spent their careers trying to help companies get out of complying with regulations meant to protect the people. Even his own Supreme Court nominees are strong advocates of executive power. His legacy has been to undermine every control meant to keep him and his supports from running out of control.
  • The Real Question... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hangtime ( 19526 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:14PM (#15165572) Homepage
    Will he have any juice to stop, sway, change direction, or do something in our best interest? Its easy to give someone a job but its quite another to give them the responsibility and the power to do it effectively.
  • - No child left behind czar

    - Supreme court justice Harriet Myers

    - Clean Air

    - Environment czar to relax the environment initiatives

    - Homeland security from everyone but the illegals

    - VP himself to supervise energy policy ... working well at 3 dollars a gallon

    - And last but not the least ... himself ... the DECIDER. Get me Saddam ... and who is this OBL you talk about
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:25PM (#15165680)
      You forgot the really funny ones!

      June 2003: Nuala O'Connor Kelly, (former Chief "Privacy" Officer of Doubleclick) [wired.com] appointed to be Chief "Privacy" officer for HomeSec.

      February 2005: D. Reed Freeman, (former Gator/Claria Chief "Privacy" Officer) [slashdot.org] sitting on HomeSec's Data "Privacy" and "Integrity" Advisory Committee.

      Maybe we should be thankful. Based on precedent, the BSA guy should be put in charge of the Copyright office, or perhaps hired by NSA to... adjust its priorities when it comes to what sort of traffic is worthy of further investigation.

      April 2006: Department of Commerce, undersecretary for technology: Robert Cresanti, former VP of public policy at the Business Software Alliance (BSA) [slashdot.org].

      Now we have a guy who "recalls being unable to tell the good guys from the bad as both armed soldiers and civilians alike would order his family out of their car to search it", and who says one of his best qualifications for the job includes "first-hand brushes with totalitarianism" in charge of Civil Liberties instead.

      "Good? Bad? I'm the guy with the gun."
      - Ash, Army of Darkness (1993)

      Anyways, freedom's overrated these days. You know what they do to people in those freedom camps? (Yeah, neither do I, and I'd like to keep it that way!)

      There's still time to appoint Jeff Bezos to run USPTO! (I've got a $10 bet riding on it, so please, write your Congressmen today! :)

      • "recalls being unable to tell the good guys from the bad as both armed soldiers and civilians alike would order his family out of their car to search it"

        The funny part is that it seems pretty obvious to me who the bad guys are here, and that'd be "all of them", assuming I'm not trying to drive my family onto an army base.
  • by Soporific ( 595477 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:16PM (#15165591)
    This is like a wolf appointing the fox to guard the hen house...

  • Don't Worry... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BoredWolf ( 965951 )
    I'll tell you when your rights are being violated.
  • A.G. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ktappe ( 747125 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:18PM (#15165602)
    In a properly functioning administration, the U.S. Attorney General would be the defender of civil liberties.


    • Read the Federalist Papers sometime. They're the design documentation for the Constitution and utterly fascinating.

      What was *supposed* to happen was that the states were supposed to protect their citizens against any hypothetical tyranny by the Federal government. If not out of good will, then out of jealousy for their own powers.

      That's a dead letter now.
  • I'll beleive things have actually changed in their policies when... um... man, I can't think of anything that would prove to me those leopards have changed their spots.
  • by gowen ( 141411 ) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:18PM (#15165607) Homepage Journal
    When the NSA wiretapping program began, Mr. Joel wasn't working for the intelligence office, but he says he has reviewed it and finds no problems.
    Why do I get the feeling that this was the only criterion on the job's person specification.
  • Personally . . (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geniusj ( 140174 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:20PM (#15165626) Homepage
    I, personally, will take the gesture with a grain of salt. However, I'm more than willing to give this a chance. The worst that will likely come of it is nothing. I'm willing to give the guy a shot though..
    • I'm with geniusj on this one.

      I must sincerely admit that my initial reaction was very cynical, and that some of the thoughts in my head mirrored many of the unkind comments posted thus far.

      However, I will wait and see what happens before I decide that it is all a ploy/head fake/Bad Thing(TM). I love my country, and respect its systems, but sometimes, things get a little scary.
  • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:20PM (#15165635) Journal
    Isn't it the role of the head of state to preserve civil liberties ? Especially those guaranteed by the Constitution ?
    • Yes, but what you have to understand is that he has figured out that it is easier to put blame on someone else than to actually think for yourself...

      Mike Brown: Katrina
      FBI, CIA: September 11th, 2001
      Alberto Gonzales: Abu Ghraib Prison
      Lewis "Scooter" Libby: Confidential Leaker

      When the civil liberties get worse, he just says "Alex Joel was placed there to fix these problems" Then when the media pushes harder he says "Alex Joel was trying his best" Then he removes (has him resign) Mr. Joel from his current
    • Actually, it's the role of every single officer of the government to protect the Constitution.
    • Bushh is the "Decider" President now. Haven't you heard? He's decided to delegate his duties out to appointees, until his only remaining duty is Commander of Watch This Swing.
    • It's the role of everybody in the government not to violate them to begin with. The three branches of the federal government are arranged in such a way as to try to hold each other accountable, but single-party rule kinda throws that out the window.

      The people are also supposed to protect their civil liberties through bills of rights, and state constitutions and the courts that interpret them tend to enact more rigorous protections of those rights than their federal counterparts, but, of course, that doesn'
  • Powerless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Billosaur ( 927319 ) * <wgrother.optonline@net> on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:20PM (#15165637) Journal
    While even critics of the administration applaud the effort, they question what authority these officials have. Unlike inspectors general at federal agencies, these privacy officers lack the subpoena power necessary to conduct investigations and don't report to Congress.

    And so, they become propaganda tools and little else. They need to give the position teeth, but then that's exactly what the governent doesn't want, given how the 9/11 Commission took the goverment to task for its ineptitude. The last thing they need is a government-appointed civil liberties watchdog actually doing his/her job and exposing the malfeasance going on behind the scenes.

    • Re:Powerless (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hrodvitnir ( 101283 )
      how the 9/11 Commission took the goverment to task for its ineptitude

      We have vastly different views on what the term "taking to task" means. Methinks the current attitude of corporate punishment in our society has dulled your sense of justice.
  • If his appointment history is any sort of guide, allowing foxes to guard henhouses and the like, I'd expect this appointment to be a high ranking official in the Chinese Government.
  • by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:21PM (#15165642) Homepage
    Ministry of Love = Department of Justice
    Ministry of Truth = Department of Mind Control
    Ministry of Peace = Department of War
    • by CogDissident ( 951207 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:34PM (#15165774)
      Now thats not quite accurate, its not like we're being told that our food rations are being raised, when in fact they're being lowered... well, our wallets are, ok, let me start over.

      Now thats not quite accurate, its not as if we live in a society where the government tapes public and private areas looking for wrongdoing... wait, let me start over.

      Now thats not quite accurate, its not as if we went to war for the sake of going to war... well, we went to war to make the rich richer, so let me start over.

      Now thats not quite accurate, its not as if terrorist attacks are being perpetrated against ourselves by ourselves to trump up support for the war... wait, yes we are...

      Well crap, I've got no real response here. 1984 is a good book, and scarilly relevant in this current administration. Anyone have a rebuttal?

  • in order to assuage the public's privacy concerns

    Yep, that's pretty much the only reason for this. To "assuage". Not, mind you, to take any action or actually do anything. But to make people feel better about it through persuasion and talk.

    Par for the course in my book. This administration pays a lot of lip service to a lot of things that they don't actually give a damn about. And this is yet another example of it.

    Actions speak louder than words.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:27PM (#15165699) Journal
    a REAL Civil Liberties Protection person or just a good actor at it? You know much like Gonzales is supposed be an Attorney General.

    Expecting a conservative to mod me down in 3...2....1...
  • Unitary Executive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bob3141592 ( 225638 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:28PM (#15165710) Homepage
    The WSJ reports that the Bush administration has appointed a Civil Liberties Protection Officer in order to assuage the public's privacy concerns.

    Under the Bush doctrine of Unitary Executive, this posting is a contradiction in terms and not just useless but completely meaningless. The "Officer" will be implicitely or explicitely prohibitied from taking any corrective action against anyone in the executive branch, along the same lines that the EPA cannot sure the Department of Defense to clean up depleted uranium dust because both are agents of the executive, and the president cannot sue himself. ridiculous, but that's what it is.

    Now, who are the ones in government trampling the hardest on civil liberties?
  • by Perseid ( 660451 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:30PM (#15165734)
    ...that it said Alex Jones. Now THAT would have been a news headline.
    • I find it interesting that many of Alex Jones' videos are on Google Video's top 100 list. Check out the number 4 video. Loose Change 2nd Edition [google.com], a great video that discusses the logical fallacies with 9/11. I sense that there is a change going on in the minds of Americans slowly but surely.

  • by SlappyBastard ( 961143 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:32PM (#15165754) Homepage
    Think about it; the Bushies live in bizarro world:

    Clear Skies Initiative: let factories pollute more.
    No Child Left Behind: helped schools hide minority test scores.
    Operation Iraqi Freedom: DUCK MOTHERFUCKER! has become Iraq's national motto.

    The Bush administration has been living in Opposite Day for years.

    So... A Civil Liberties officer is going to become the head of America's newest brownshirt organization and be highly effective.

    Otherwise, why would they cite his hands-on experience dealing with totalitarian methods as if it were a selling point.

    If they really wanted to convince us he was serious about civil liberties, he would appoint Larry Flynt or better yet have Hunter S. Thompson brought back from the dead.

    The new civil liberties director would be a hard-living, foul-mouth, drug-addicted, woman-grabbing, ass-slapping, hyperactive pervert driving the biggest, meanest gas-guzzling straight-line Cadillac he could find from the car lot nearest to his last traffic accident.

  • by www.sorehands.com ( 142825 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:35PM (#15165783) Homepage
    When Bush appoints someone to protect our rights, we know we are going to lose alot more.
  • by MECC ( 8478 ) * on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:37PM (#15165805)
    So the fox appoints a cat to protect the hens from the fox...

  • by 955301 ( 209856 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:39PM (#15165821) Journal

    Anyone who has a glimmer of hope about this, forget it. Here's a little summary of a comparable establishment, the Bureau of Indian Affairs. I was astonished, but wikipedia is strangely neutral about their existence:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bureau_of_Indian_Affa irs [wikipedia.org]

    But here is some of the truth behind them. They were established to placate the Native population and to ensure that they are permanently marginalized.

    They have stolen revenue from them,
    http://www.earthportals.com/Portal_Messenger/bia.h tml [earthportals.com]

    they are incompetent and their existence is a keep-your-enemies-closer solution to future American-Native American relations. Just ask anyone who has contracted with them.

    You know the what if Microsoft built cars joke? Here's the equivalent BIA joke:

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0304/S00127.htm [scoop.co.nz]

    Lastly, note that the name of the agency still reflects an old way of thinking - It ain't the Bureau of Native American Affiars, a symptom of what little regard is given to the North American Natives.

    A Civil Liberties appointee will bear some painful resemblences and be used more for turning to the population and placating them about the administration rather than speaking on behalf of the population to the President.

    This is business-as-usual.
  • Microsoft joins the OpenDocument alliance.
  • Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guysmiley777 ( 880063 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:46PM (#15165899)
    I can't believe they didn't just call it The Ministry of Love.

    Just like DMCA, the PATRIOT Act or the Range Safety Act just because it has a happy feel-good name does not make it happy or feel-good.
  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:47PM (#15165904)
    Alex Joel recalls being unable to tell the good guys from the bad as both armed soldiers and civilians alike would order his family out of their car to search it.

    This is an ironic statement since he could he be talking about either Guatemala or Iraq.
    Article with search pictures [www.ctv.ca]
  • "There is no silver-bullet answer," he says of balancing privacy and national security. "There are actually a lot of silver BBs and if you put enough of those together in a coherent way, wrap it with good policy, procedures and training, then you can have the same impact as a silver bullet."
    Insert your own joke here about silver birdshot pellets and quail-hunting expeditions...
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @12:47PM (#15165920)
    "Dick, they're getting upset."
    "Well, 'cause we pretty much snoop at them."
    "Well, ya know, the things 'bout land of free and ..."
    "We already eliminated home of the brave, and they kinda liked it. So?"
    "Well, it ain't good, ok? They might finally find out that we're not really working in their favor."
    "Hmm. I know. We'll appoint someone to take care of civil liberties and observe it all."
    "But ... wouldn't that kinda hurt us?"
    "How so?"
    "Well, if he's constantly telling us what we can't do?"
    "Never said anything 'bout telling us what to do, did I? I said OBSERVE."
    "And then?"
    "No then. File a nice li'l report to be put into the big round storage under your desk."
    "And what should that do?"
    "Make them think that someone's taking care of liberty. While we take care of what's left of it."
  • I'm afraid that the post will prove surprisingly accurate. It doesn't say that he's appointed a Civil Liberties Protection Officer in order to prevent the administration from trampling our civil liberties. It doesn't say that he's been appointed to verify that our civil liberties aren't being trampled. He's been appointed to "assuage the public's privacy concerns."
  • Current situation:

    The state is snooping too much and is acting in an oppressive and unconstitutional way. Rumsfeld, Bush, whoever must be held responsible. Someone must resign.

    Future situation:

    The state is snooping too much and is acting in an oppressive and unconstitutional way.
    The Civil-Liberties Officer isn't doing his job properly and he must resign.

    Appointing people to posts where they appear to have free reign while their strings are pulled from the shadows puts a superb buffer zone between the public
  • by Schraegstrichpunkt ( 931443 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @01:57PM (#15166657) Homepage
    ... I want them to be addressed.

The relative importance of files depends on their cost in terms of the human effort needed to regenerate them. -- T.A. Dolotta